to U.S. Anti–Money Laundering Requirements: Frequently
Asked Questions (2nd Edition)
by Protiviti; available for free download at www.protiviti.com;
copyright 2005; 122 pages
by Jeffry R. Haber
2006 - As more businesses fall under the requirements of anti–money
laundering reporting, more CPAs will need to become familiar
with the applicable standards. Protiviti, a consulting company
that provides services in the areas of business risk, technology
risk, internal audit, and anti–money laundering (AML),
recently revised its Guide to U.S. Anti–Money Laundering
guide uses a question-and-answer approach to cover what
anyone working in AML needs to know. For someone new to
AML, the guide is indispensable. The best parts are the
appendices; these alone would still be a valuable reference.
Even the most experienced and knowledgeable AML expert would
want these appendices handy. The appendices are:
Commonly used acronyms;
AML/BSA (Bank Secrecy Act) statutes and regulations; and
format can be difficult to manage. While questions can be
selected and framed to follow a logical and sequential path
through the material, they are not as clear and understandable
as standard prose. The 475 questions are organized into
the chapters of fundamentals, BSA, the Patriot Act, customer
identification programs, risk assessments, the AML program,
transaction monitoring, the Office of Foreign Assets Control
(OFAC), implementation of AML laws and regulations, nonbank
financial institutions, and nonfinancial institutions.
the professional new to AML, this organization takes the
reader from the earlier act (BSA) through the sweeping Patriot
Act, discussing the general rules and application. The guide
then discusses the rules and regulations from the industry
perspective, so the reader could use the table of contents
to focus on a particular industry classification. In some
ways, this organization can be very useful, asking questions
that the newcomer may not have thought of, while still conveying
basic information. In other ways, this organization can
be superficial. For the professional with an intermediate
level of knowledge, this organization may be less useful,
because specific questions may not be covered as directly
as necessary. Particularly when working in the field, these
professionals would be looking for an answer to a particular
situation. They would still need to consult the applicable
act to determine the proper course of action. For the individual
with an advanced knowledge of AML, the questions and answers
will provide no new information. Again, however, the appendices
will prove useful for professionals of any experience level.
guide also contains useful tips called “best practices”
(in a question-and-answer format). Common in AML is a standard
form called a suspicious activity report (SAR), which is
to be filed under certain broadly defined circumstances.
There are penalties for not filing a SAR, as well as ramifications
for excessive SAR filings. The guide does an evenhanded
job of conveying government guidance on when to make a SAR
filing. Perhaps to the contrary of what one would imagine,
the government believes that filing unnecessary SARs dilutes
the investigative value of the SAR, and it does not want
to receive SARs simply because filers want to protect themselves.
The guide clearly discusses criteria for when SARs should,
and should not, be filed.
reviewer would have preferred to see a narrative summary
of the major legislation, perhaps 10 to 15 pages on each
act, prior to starting the question-and-answer format. This
would have put the acts into proper context prior to discussing
them through Q&A. A few questions were worded less clearly
than they could have been, but this is not a significant
guide is offered as a free download through the Protiviti
Everyone involved in AML should get the appendices, even
if the rest of the material is too basic for their needs.
target audience for this guide would be CPAs who have just
acquired a client that has AML issues, companies just coming
under AML regulations (such as the jewelry industry), and
employees new to the field. As an introductory reference,
it is a quick and valuable read. Professionals more advanced
in the subject will not find the guide to be very useful.
Perhaps examples or anecdotes would make the guide more
compelling for the advanced AML practitioner. As it is,
however, the guide should be downloaded by anyone getting
started in AML work.
R. Haber, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor of
accounting at the Hagan School of Business of Iona College,
New Rochelle, N.Y.